Dose and Potency

November 2, 2016

When you make your own edibles it is important to estimate the potency of your infused product.

This will allow you to control how much THC you are consuming so that you don’t over serve yourself or others. However, accurately determining the exact potency of a homemade butter or oil is a complicated subject with a lot of conflicting opinions.

Ultimately, the only way you can know for sure the exact milligrams of THC in your butter or oil is through lab testing. But you can get a good idea of the maximum dose your edibles are likely to carry, and with a little trial and error you can find your perfect homemade cannabutter or cannaoil dosage.cannabis-2

First and most important is the percentage of THC in the cannabis that you are using. When you go a dispensary this information should be clearly displayed. On average, cannabis has 10-20% THC, but what does this mean for you?

Every 1 gram of cannabis bud has 1,000mg of dry weight. If a strain has about 20% THC, twenty percent of 1,000mg would be 200 mg. But that is not the amount of THC that will be in your edibles.

During the decarboxylation (or decarb) process THC-A (raw THC) is converted to Δ9-THC (the cannabinoid that yields psychoactive effects), there is some loss of THC. The conversion rate is about .88. Some growers note THC-A percentages on their packaging, while some growers have already done the conversion for you noting potential THC. Read packaging carefully and if it is unclear be sure to consult with a knowledgable budtender.

Additionally, traditional home extraction methods can only effectively extract 30-60% of the active THC and terpenes.

Example:

  1. I started with 3.5 grams (or an eighth of an ounce) of a strain with 20%THC-A. Covert weight to milligrams by multiplying by 1000.
    • 5 x 1000 = 3,500 mg.
  2. Since my strain is 20%, I know that 20% of those milligrams are THC-A. To calculate milligrams of THC-A multiple milligrams of cannabis by .20
    • 3,500 x .20 = 700 mg of THC-A.
  3. During the decarboxylation process THC-A is converted to Δ9-THC with a conversion rate of .88. Multiply total THC-A mg by .88 to get estimated Δ9-THC.
    • 700 x .88 = 616 mg Δ9-THC
  4. Under ideal conditions you will be able to extract 60% of that THC into a butter. Multiply estimated active THC by .60
    • 616 x .60 = 369.6

That means that if I use a 20% strain of THC, and I do everything perfectly my butter will have a maximum 369.6 mg of active THC. Divide the miligrams of THC by the number of tablespoons of butter or oil that you infused, and you will know the maximum mg of THC per tablespoon of butter or oil.

It is pretty rare that any of us will have ideal conditions in our kitchens, and I know that I rarely do everything perfectly. Depending on a variety of factors, your cannabutter or oil could end up with significantly less than the maximum THC from this calculation.

So how much butter or oil should you use? It is generally accepted that a single serving of THC is 10 mgs. If you are new to edibles you shouldn’t need any more than that to get started. In my experience a half teaspoon per serving delivers a good beginner dose. A full teaspoon per serving will deliver a more intermediate dose, best for someone who has had cannabis infused food before and is familiar with the effects.

The potency of your butters and oils will vary depending on the type of cannabis used, and any errors made during the infusion process that causes the THC to degrade. Ultimately the answer has to come from your own personal experience. The tried and true advice for edibles is always to go “low and slow” until you find your own comfort level. Remember, it is always safest to assume the maximum amount of THC made it into your edibles. You can always take more, but you can’t go back and take less.

Some other tips for a more consistent edible experience:

  • Use measuring spoons precisely. Do not just eyeball it when you are using infused butters and oils. Break out the measuring spoons and use a knife to level.
  • Mix well. When you mix butter or oil into a batter, sauce, or anything else stir much more than you ordinarily would. To get a consistent experience the infused product needs to be evenly distributed throughout the entire mixture.
  • Portions matter. When your food is infused, how much you eat is very important. Take the time to accurately portion the infused components of your meal. This could mean using measuring cups/spoons or food scales to get even portions.
  • Wait it out. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours for edibles to take effect. How long it will take for you can depend on many factors, including whether your stomach was empty when you ate the infused meal, whether the infused butter or oil is baked into something or if it is in a liquid form like a sauce, age, and metabolism speed to name only a few.

 

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